ROCHESTER, NY – Doctors can take one look at a patient’s face and be able to tell if the person is suffering atrial fibrillation, according to a new study.

The study, published online in August in the journal Heart Rhythm, says the use of web cameras and software algorithms can help reveal subtle skin color changes that point to the potentially dangerous, but treatable, heart condition.

The algorithm notes the changes of skin colors that happen when uneven blood flow is experienced. The technology, developed in partnership between the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and Xerox, holds promise, said Jean-Philippe Couderc, of the URMC Heart Research Follow-up Program.

“This technology holds the potential to identify and diagnose cardiac disease using contactless video monitoring,” Couderc said. “This is a very simple concept, but one that could enable more people with atrial fibrillation to get the care they need.”

Atrial fibrillation is characterized by a rapid heart rate that causes poor blood flow to the body. This happens when the upper and lower chambers of the heart beat out of sync. More than 3 million Americans suffer from the disease.

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